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January Update

January 1, 2023

EVENTS

Happy New Year! I hope everyone had a safe and happy holiday season.

Christmas Tree-Cycling

Recycling Christmas trees into mulch, rather than putting them in the trash, keeps them out of landfills, helps save Metro the cost of disposal fees, and provides ground cover for trails in our parks. Trees can be taken until February 11 to the following locations:

  • Cane Ridge Park
  • Una Recreation Center
  • Whitfield Park
  • Cedar Hill Park
  • Two Rivers Park
  • Joelton Community Center
  • Sevier Park
  • Richland Park
  • Elmington Park
  • Edwin Warner Park
  • Lakewood City Hall
  • Frederick Douglas Park
  • Both of Living Earth’s locations at 1511 Elm Hill Pike and 6401 Centennial Blvd. (Living Earth of Tennessee’s operating hours are Monday-Friday 7:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.; Saturday 8:00 a.m. to noon)

Trees must be cleaned of all ornaments, lights, wire, string, flocking, and other decor before bringing them to be tree-cycled. No artificial trees can be accepted. Please do not dump any other items at these drop-off locations.

Brush Pick-up for Area 8 Green Hills, Hillsboro West End, Belmont Hillsboro, Percy Warner, Devonshire begins on December 30. January 4 is the beginning of pick-up for Area 9 Bellevue, West Meade, Hillwood, White Bridge, Cherokee Park, Richland West End, Sylvan Park, Sylvan Heights, Hadley, Fisk, Watkins Park. Area 10 – Whites Bend, Charlotte Park, Cockrill Bend, Nations, TSU, College Heights, Germantown, Buena Vista pick-up begins January 13. Area 11 – Joelton, Whites Creek, Marrowbone, Scottsboro, Bells Bend, Bordeaux, Haynes Heights, Haynes Manor pick-up begins January 19. Area 12 - Goodlettsville, Dalemere, Bellshire pick-up begins January 24. Area 1 - West Madison, Capital View, Douglas Park, Cleveland Park, McFerrin Park, Highland Heights pick-up begins January 30. Neighbors can confirm dates on the NDOT website. Remember to put leaves in compostable bags and place brush piles away from utility poles so the machinery can pick them up safely.

Nashville Reads: Each year Nashville Public Library picks one book for Nashvillians to read as a city. This year’s selection will be announced in early January There will be a series of Shop Talks planned for discussing topics of this book this spring. Check the website for more details.

Nashville Shakespeare Festival’s production of Love’s Labor Lost will be in Belmont’s Troutt Theater through the end of January. Public Performances are February 16-26 Thursdays thru Saturdays 7:30 p.m. / Saturdays and Sundays 2:00 p.m. More information at can be found at the Nashville Shakespeare Festival website

Metro Parks has a range of great classes at very reasonable prices from drama and dance to tennis and visual arts. Register for Metro Parks programs on line at the Metro Parks website. Winter classes start up in January.

ISSUES

At the last council meeting, the council passed the first of many decision points in the process to determine the best path forward for the Titans Stadium. I voted in favor of the proposed term sheet because I believe it sets up a reasonable framework to negotiate a better deal for the citizens and property tax payers of Nashville. There will be multiple additional votes where we will be asked to evaluate actual final costs and agreements.
The council will be considering more details on the proposed new Titans stadium moving toward decisions to be made in late winter or early spring. The current lease, negotiated in the 1990s, obligates the city to maintain the facility in First Class conditions, a definition with room for interpretation. Estimates on the cost of doing the needed renovations range from $300 million to $1.8 billion. Regardless of where on that spectrum the actual cost lies, the payment comes from local tax payer dollars. Facility maintenance is currently being paid for by property tax dollars and general sales tax, and the remaining $30 million on the original bond issues comes from property tax and general sales tax dollars. The current proposal frees Metro taxpayers from these obligations as well as from $32 million owed directly to the Titan’s for maintenance that they have already paid for. The proposed new covered, 60,000 seat stadium is estimated to cost $2.1 billion. The lease under consideration shifts the cost from property tax and general sales tax to tourist taxes and football related sources:

  • $840 million from the Titans, NFL and PSLs. Titans cover cost overruns and future maintenance and capital expenses
  • $500 million from a one-time State contribution (available for a domed stadium only)
  • $760 million from Sports Authority revenue bonds repaid by
    • New 1% hotel tax (for a new stadium only)
    • Sales tax from stadium sales
    • 50% of sales tax in a 130 acre area around the stadium
    • $3 stadium ticket tax

The Titan’s ownership will be responsible for maintenance and capital expenses to keep the facilities in First Class conditions.
The Sports Authority is responsible for building and maintaining at least 2,000 parking spaces, most likely in a parking garage. The current surface parking lots contain 7,000 spaces. The lots that are not slated for the new stadium will be freed up for Metro to develop, which is not possible under the existing lease. This will be a source of new income for Metro. There are still important details to be worked out about infrastructure needs and costs and how affordable housing and other community benefits will be guaranteed. Those are being vigorously discussed by the council and administration and closely watched by key community groups. The East Bank vision plan has laid out clear requirements for infrastructure and housing affordability that are referenced in the development plan. Through the rest of the winter, negotiations will continue on nine different agreements that have to be approved by the Council before the city is committed. This provides important opportunities to ensure that the final deal is beneficial to all Nashvillians and not just sports fans. Council members have heard loud and clear at the five community meetings held in December there need to be tangible benefits for regular folks. In response to that message, an amendment was added to the term sheet creating a Nashville Needs fund to receive revenue from the stadium and direct it to important public benefits like schools and housing. This will be an important negotiating point as we continue the process. Information on the current and proposed agreement can be viewed at https://www.nashville.gov/departments/council/resources/east-bank-stadium-committee

This year it is especially important for everyone to get a flu shot to lower the chance that hospitals get overwhelmed by this year’s combination of flu, RSV, and COVID-19 cases. Some cities have already had to set up tent hospitals to handle overflow. Vaccinations can reduce the spread and the severity of all three of these respiratory illnesses. Flu shots are available at most drug stores and from Metro Public Health at the following locations:

  • East Nashville Public Health Center, 1015 East Trinity Lane, (615) 862-7916
  • Lentz Public Health Center, 2500 Charlotte Avenue, (615) 340-5607
  • Woodbine Public Health Center, 224 Oriel Avenue, (615) 862-7940

Shots are around $35, and many insurance policies cover the cost. Some drugs stores are offering free shots.

Project Warm at Nashville General Hospital is once again asking for help to provide warm clothing to patients when they leave the hospital. Neighbors can provide new coats, ponchos, sleeping bags, hoodies, flannels, sweat pants and men’s tennis shoes (size 10 and above) for women and men. at 1818 Albion Street or mail cash donations online at nashgenfoundation.org.

NDOT (Nashville Department of Transportation) was officially formed a year ago to focus on improving Nashville’s streets, sidewalks, and bikeways to make transportation safer for everyone. NDOT’s traffic calming program works with neighborhoods to add features to lower speeds on local streets. To provide a fair evaluation of the very high number of neighborhoods desiring to participate, applications for traffic calming are accepted only during specified times. NDOT will be accepting applications from neighborhood groups for the next round of traffic calming in February. Projects will be evaluated based on traffic count, speed, and incident data so that the most dangerous areas can be addressed first. Neighborhoods that qualify will be considered for lowered speed limits, speed humps, chicanes, traffic calming circles, and other traffic calming infrastructure. Applicants from previous rounds will be re-entered in the process. if there are any changes from previous applications, neighborhoods can contact the traffic calming program manager, Derek Hagerty, directly at derek.hagerty@nashville.gov. To learn more about the traffic calming program visit the NDOT traffic calming website Stop sign and sidewalk requests are separate and not included in the traffic calming program. Neighbors can request those through the hubNashville website, by calling 311, and working with Council Members.

Nashville Tree Conservation Corps Tree Sale Nashville is actively working to protect and replenish our tree canopy. Trees provide shade and wildlife habitat, reduce stormwater run-off, diminish heat island effect, and raise property values. Neighbors can help replace lost canopy by ordering and planting trees from the Nashville Tree Conservation Corps. The selection includes oaks, maples, dogwoods, cherry trees and other beautiful flowering and shade trees at reduced prices. For those who prefer, tree planting services can be included for an additional fee. Ordering deadlines are January 2, 2023 for delivery the week of January 16, 2023; January 29, 2023 for delivery the week of February 13, 2023; and February 26, 2023 for delivery the week of March 20, 2023. After January 29th, 2023 NTCC will not offer any early spring blooming trees such as Redbud, Dogwood, or blooming cherry tree varieties in order to avoid transplant shock of these early spring bloomers. The sooner you can get spring blooming trees in the ground, the better! For more information, visit the NTCC page

Metro has over 75 different volunteer boards and commissions that help with the governance of the city taking full advantage of citizen engagement and expertise. Residents of Davidson County are encouraged to participate in everything from the Agricultural Extension Board to the Board of Zoning Appeals. Nominations can be submitted by Council Members to the Mayor’s Office for consideration. In addition a new initiative to make it easier for Nashvillians to express interest to serve on Metro Boards and Commissions, and for the first time ever, will compile and reuse demographic data from those groups online. Metro has launched an online portal that creates a streamlined and centrally located questionnaire process for Davidson County residents. The portal is part of a new internal data system designed to allow Metro Government to better manage the 70+ active Boards & Commissions on which more than 680 residents actively serve the community. The new portal can be accessed under any board website. In addition to easing the questionnaire process and improving management of interested residents, the overall appointment process will be modernized by automated to notify Metro Government of upcoming seat vacancies in advance so that appointments can coincide with terms ending and to gather demographic information for real-time monitoring of the diversity levels of each board and commission. This is another important facet of Metro’s continuing efforts to increase diversity across government. As openings come up, the Mayor’s Office will select from applicants, with final approval by Council vote. Descriptions of all the boards and commissions can be found on the website. There are openings coming up on the Airport Board and Metro Arts Commission. If you are interested in serving, please check the website. You can also send me a resume with a brief explanation of your qualifications and why you would like to serve so I can support your nomination.

Metro Water Services has announced a scheduled water rate increase of 3% in January as part of the 2019 rate study and realignment plan. Rates are set to increase annually at 3% through 2025, and then the increase will be tied to the consumer price index. For more information, visit the Metro Water website

At a recent meeting, the Metro Council passed BL2022-1412, which expanded the area in Nashville where parking minimums are not specified by the zoning code. In most of Nashville, tables in the Metro Code spell out how many parking spaces are required for different types of residential and commercial properties. In the heart of downtown, guided by the Downtown Code, Metro Planning has left the decision of how much parking to provide up to the developer for many years. Parking has been provided for almost all new projects, including some 5000 new spaces, but the quantity has been determined by the market, rather than the Planning chart. In 2020, BL2020-117 extended this flexibility to all properties fronting multi-modal corridors within the Urban Zoning Overlay (UZO is the old city of Nashville, generally inside I-440/I-24 loop). I have asked the Planning Department to provide data on the parking provisions for new developments since this was enacted. They are still working their way through a very tedious process to gather that information, but the trend so far is that parking has continued to be provided. This latest bill further extends the area with no specified parking minimum to the whole UZO. This is a complicated issue; on one hand requiring more parking can reduce the tree canopy, increase stormwater run-off, and increase housing prices and small business rent. On the other, not providing enough parking can lead to overflow parking on neighborhood streets – blocking driveways, mailboxes, and brush piles. Because of concerns expressed by neighbors, I am working with NDOT on enhancing the residential permit parking program to provide additional protection to residents and further incentives for businesses to provide adequate parking.

The council is consideration legislation that would update the city’s Fund Balance Policy. The proposed policy follows municipal accounting best practices and establishes a fund balance goal of two months of operating costs to be set aside and 50% of the annual debt service cost to be set aside. This is a very responsible way to run the city budget, and meeting these goals is already within reach without putting additional tax burden on anyone. It will prepare us for the next surprise, which hopefully will be a long time in coming.

Does your child know how to call in 911 in an emergency? Sponsored by the Metro Nashville Emergency Communications Board, Rescue Rex was introduced in 1992 to teach pre-k through 2nd grade MNPS student when and how to call 911. Free of charge, Rex travels throughout Davidson County to perform a 30-minute skit complete with audience interaction, singing, and dancing. The Rescue Rex program is designed to revisit schools with a skit that changes each year to keep students engaged. Each appearance also includes a themed coloring book, printed in both English and Spanish, to distribute at the schools. Rex is available for community event appearances in addition to his appearances inside MNPS schools! Rex performs in person, but there is a virtual show available to share with interested parties. For more information, check out rescuerex.com

The Financial Empowerment Center is looking for volunteers for VITA Tax preparation. VITA, Volunteer Income Tax Assistance was created by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to provide free tax preparation and electronic filing for low- to moderate-income taxpayers using community partners and volunteers. Each year, VITA volunteers help thousands of individuals and families prepare their taxes in middle Tennessee. The United Way provides in-person locations in 8 counties and virtually for the state of Tennessee. Last year the coalition led by United Way and the Financial Empowerment Center prepared 8,900 returns with just around 270 volunteers returning $11.7M in total federal refunds to the community at no cost to taxpayers. To volunteer, go to the United Way website

As we begin a new year I am, as always, eager to hear new ideas on how to make Nashville a great place for everyone. Please contact me at burkley.allen@nashville.gov or 615-383-6604.

Wishing everyone a great New Year!

Regards,
Burkley Allen
Metro Council At-Large

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